By Sarah Huff and Franki Kung

As you all know, SPSP2020 is just around the corner and your Early Career Committee members want to help you get the most out of your convention experience. With this in mind, we recently surveyed Early Career members for their advice on how to best navigate SPSP as an Early Career member. The themes that emerged around networking, building collaborations, and attending research talks are summarized below:

  1. Set up meetings in advance: A challenge that many Early Career members face is building your network, especially when you are moving to a new research area or job title. Many of your peers suggested reaching out to potential collaborators or mentors before the conference to schedule a meeting over coffee. Many people mentioned that others are incredibly generous with their time and happy to meet you especially if you reach out early!
  2. Reconnect with friends and collaborators: Don’t be afraid to spend time fostering the relationships you have already built with current collaborators or friends from graduate school. They are likely your main professional contacts, and through them you will naturally broaden your network over time.
  3. Attend preconferences: Preconferences can be an excellent place to meet people who share similar interests before the main conference. In fact, your peers said that many of their collaborations have started at preconferences.
  4. Find a buddy: You can use these people to your advantage when introducing yourself to new people.  As previously mentioned, preconferences or special programming such as happy hours and receptions can be great places to find a buddy!
  5. Attend talks outside your research area: While most people attend the talks that are most relevant to their research, talks outside of your area can provide fresh perspectives. Also, attend professional development sessions!

A few of your peers have pointed out that there is not a one size fits all approach. Successful conferencing takes many forms; it also takes time to find out what works best for you (based on your personality and career needs at the moment). The key is being willing to try!

Finally, for even more tips, we encourage you to take a look at this previous SPSP chat on “Making the most of the convention” -

Thank you to the Early Career members for sharing your advice. We look forward to seeing all of you at the conference in February!